Favorite Albums from 2007
Remember 2007? The iPhone made its first appearance, the U.S. Housing bubble burst, six miners were trapped in a mine that collapsed in Utah and us Cali natives were in fear due to some of the deadliest fires in U.S. history tore through Southern California.
My personal life was progressing as well as I started dating my now wife and figuring out what direction I wanted to go during college. Throughout our time on Earth as we navigate through our own growth and life’s craziness music can be a medium that keeps you grounded, inspired and motivated.
Maybe you don’t feel the same way, maybe it’s not that deep for you. Regardless, there are some songs, albums or artists that we hold dear to because they cut through the noise of life and pierce our hearts. They spoke to us in the midst of our darkness, helped distract us or encouraged us to have a good time. However music speaks to you I hope you enjoy the list of albums that are a decade old this year that have stuck with me.
#1 Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool by Lupe Fiasco
Why It’s Great: Lupe is one of my favorite rappers period. Before his career took a turn for the worst (check here and here) this Chicago native was crushing the game while talking about things that matter. His sophomore album tackled topics such as child soldiers in Africa, gang violence, industry politics all while maintaining an overarching concept of a man who sold his soul to “The Game” and gave his heart to the streets. It’s a cautionary tale told insightfully without beating you over the head combined with his plea to stop promoting violence that continues the cycles we see in our culture, especially in poor black neighborhoods. He was and still is a light in the midst of darkness in the rap game. After his album’s release he was a part of the Glow in the Dark Tour with Kanye West, N.E.R.D., Rihanna and Chris Brown (before all that horrible stuff happened).
Favorite Tracks: Dumb it Down, Put You on Game, Hip-Hop Save My Life
#2 The Reminder by Feist
Why It’s Great: One of Feist’s unique traits in 2007 were her single shot videos. Remember My Moon My Man, I Feel It All and the viral 1234? These were very different from the other popular videos at the time and the realness and simplicity in her visual art actually enhanced her songs instead of serving as distractions which can happen for many videos. This album is full of beautiful lyrics that aren’t lost in overproduction.
Favorite Tracks: The Limit To Your Love, So Sorry and the songs mentioned above
#3 Graduation by Kanye West
Why It’s Great: “I miss the old Kanye!” Ye was continuing to push the envelope with his rhymes and production style as he made a left turn from his previous album’s sound to a more pop/dance/futuristic-ish style while maintaining his own personal signature. He still talked about things that mattered while contradicting himself later on the same song but there are still some gems on this album that speak out against the violence in his hometown Chicago and other positive messages. Plus he upped the ante on music videos by hitting us with unique visuals for his singles including 3 different videos for Flashing Lights.
Favorite Tracks: Can’t Tell Me Nothing, I Wonder, Everything I Am
#4 Little Voice by Sara Bareilles
Why It’s Great: Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Sara grabbed our hearts with her catchy Love Song, a rebellious declaration to her record label who told her she needed to write a love song to be her lead single on her major label debut. Her writing style ranges from vulnerable and transparent to strong and defiant. From fun and light to heavy piano ballads, this album packs a punch.
Favorite Tracks: Gravity, Bottle It Up, Vegas
#5 Shock Value by Timbaland
Why It’s Great: Timbaland is one of my favorite producers EVER. This is one of the first times we were able to see what he could do outside of the hip-hop and R&B arena. With songs from OneRepublic (who just broke onto the scene at the time, more on them later), Fallout Boy and Elton John, Timbo was able to show how versatile he is. Sure, he had some of his usual suspects such as Missy Elliot, Justin Timberlake and Nelly Futardo, but this was such a fun and diverse project for him with old and new artists alike.
Favorite Tracks: The Way I Are, Release, Come and Get Me
#6 Riot! by Paramore
Why It’s Great: I love Hayley’s voice. The energy, defiance and personality that was displayed on their sophomore project made it an infectious and fun ride. My favorite part about this group (aside from Hayley’s voice) has always been their lyrics and they didn’t shy away from going deep as they gained a larger more mainstream audience. Although I’ve remained a fan over the years (regardless of the members changing) I still listen to this album today! Did I mention I love her voice?
Favorite Tracks: Let the Flames Begin, crushcrushcrush, For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic
#7 Made of Bricks by Kate Nash
Why It’s Great: Kate Nash has never shied away from telling you what she thinks and isn’t afraid to go on random tangents. She’s clearly doesn’t care what the listener thinks of her and is very blunt in a way that is refreshingly hilarious! Most of the songs on this album are piano driven and different than the other pop albums of that time. Hailing from the UK she has some similarities to Amy Winehouse and Adele regarding personality and the use of mainly live instrumentation, but is definitely unique in her own right.
Favorite Tracks: Mouthwash, S*** Song, Merry Happy
#8 Dreaming Out Loud by OneRepublic
Why It’s Great: Back when I had Myspace in 2006 my background sound was an early version of Apologize. I remember rushing to Best Buy the day the album came out and played it over and over and over again. Ryan Tedder’s writing style is one of my favorites as he mixes pop with rock and catchy melodies that get you swept up in the moment (All Falls Down). This was a strong debut from the band and because Apologize got a second life on Timbaland’s Shock Value they were launched into the mainstream pretty quickly. ALSO they have a Come Home remix which is a duet with Sara Bareilles which is fantastic.
Favorite Tracks: All Falls Down, Stop and Stare, Tyrant
#9 Don’t Quit Your Day Job by Consequence
Why It’s Great: Cons is an underground legend! Another influential MC hailing from Chicago, Cons brings his clever wordplay front and center along with production help from Kanye West. This guy is grossly underrated as he’s able to speak about real topics and every day life with charisma and humor with a smooth flow that’s easy to get lost in. His Disperse video had cameos from Ye, Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell which showed how connected he was. This album is just good hip-hop. Notice all my favorite rap albums from this year are from Chicago artists?
Favorite Tracks: Night Night, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, Disperse
#10 Kala by M.I.A.
Why It’s Great: What drew me to Kala was it’s unique sound and energy. M.I.A.’s second album is a concoction of multiple styles including dance, hip-hop native South Asian music. Although M.I.A. produced the majority of the project Timbaland, Diplo and others lent a helping hand giving it a well balanced yet unique and weird feel. The lead single felt like an invasion on mainstream radio as it sounded nothing like the other top 40 hits in the day.
Favorite Tracks: Paper Planes, Come Around, Bird Flu
Finding Forever by Common, The Bird and the Bee by The Bird and the Bee, Drastic Fantastic by KT Tunstall, Street Love by Lloyd, Make Sure They See My Face by Kenna